Gingrich "appalled" by marriage question

CHARLESTON, South Carolina Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:48am EST

Republican presidential candidate former House Speaker Newt Gingrich waves as he arrives on stage to participate in a Republican presidential candidates debate in Charleston, South Carolina,  January 19, 2012.  REUTERS/Jason Reed

Republican presidential candidate former House Speaker Newt Gingrich waves as he arrives on stage to participate in a Republican presidential candidates debate in Charleston, South Carolina, January 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

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CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - Newt Gingrich hit back forcefully on Thursday at an allegation that he asked his second wife to tolerate an "open marriage", angrily denying the claim at a presidential debate in South Carolina.

"I'm appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that," Gingrich told the debate moderator, John King of CNN.

Gingrich's wife said in an interview the Republican presidential candidate asked her to have an "open marriage" while he was having an affair with another woman in the 1990s, a statement that might damage his chances in South Carolina's primary vote.

Gingrich's wife Marianne spoke to ABC News' Nightline in an interview to be aired on Thursday.

Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is rising in the polls ahead of Saturday's primary vote in South Carolina in which he is campaigning as the conservative alternative to front-runner Mitt Romney.

The former congressman has made the media's coverage a frequent target during the 2012 campaign.

Gingrich called the claim that he asked Marianne to allow him to have a mistress "false."

"I'm tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama," Gingrich said.

His Republican opponents were asked whether Gingrich's past infidelity should influence the campaign.

"Let's get on to the real issues," said Romney, the former Massachusetts governor.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who is challenging Gingrich for the votes of social conservatives, talked about faith.

"This country is a very forgiving country," Santorum said.

(Editing by Philip Barbara)

(Reporting By Samuel P. Jacobs)

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Comments (29)
shellbank wrote:
Gingrich can be as appalled as he wants to. That doesn’t change the fact that his personal history is open to the public now that he is running for president. If he didn’t want his dirty laundry aired he should have stayed out of the race. His motto seems to be “all is fair in love and war” based on his so called marriage vows, so this is war. Funny how Romney has only had one wife and he is the Morman and Gingrich the “christian” has had mulitiple wives. I believe his first wife made the same accusations as the second wife regarding an open marriage. So are they both liars or is he? He also berated Clinton for the very same thing he was doing while holding public office. Before I question his ex wife’s integrity I would question his. So where is the “social conservatism” in this picture? “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.” The republicans will be the fools if they allow him to be their nominee.

Jan 19, 2012 9:16pm EST  --  Report as abuse
phillipraney wrote:
The GOP needs to get things straight! If you want to sling mud then make sure your own house is spic and span. They want to say marriage is scared, but only if it fit’s into their version of what ever changing mood they are in that day. It’s not about what other politicians have done in the past. It’s about the person running. Too many times people make comments after some gaffe, or story of a presidential hopeful that has been “caught” and then everyone starts naming other politicians. The problem is not with deed as much as it is with the blatant hypocrisy in which others defend their actions. You can’t have it both ways. That comes from that book you are always trying to sale everyone on.

Jan 19, 2012 9:25pm EST  --  Report as abuse
powerwhip wrote:
“Gingrich called the claim that he asked Marianne to allow him to have a mistress “false.”
Possibly a true statement by newt, he probably didn’t ask before he cheated on her.
Yes bobby, someday when you grow up you could run for president too, the bar is set so low in the republican party that any idiot qualifies.

Jan 19, 2012 9:58pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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